Where does my recycling go?
See ‘Glass’ section updates to learn more about why non-refundable glass will no longer be accepted at depots across the territory
We get asked this question a lot. Recycling is a global industry and with global markets in a state of flux, the end-markets for Yukon’s recycled materials are a hot topic.
Here’s a list of some of the items we process, and where they currently end up after you drop them off at Raven. As these end points depend on markets and demand, this list is subject to change.
All our materials are shipped out via backhaul, filling up trucks that would otherwise go south empty.
All our paper is baled and shipped to a broker in the lower mainland in British Columbia. Currently, sorted residential papers are shipped to a processor in Greater Vancouver and turned into new egg cartons.
Cardboard and boxboard
Cardboard and boxboard are shipped to mills in the Pacific Northwest, mainly in Washington State. This material is pulped and reprocessed into new cardboard.
Unfortunately glass is a material that is hard to recycle given our location and capabilities. Due to its abrasive nature and high weight, as well as our distance from glass recycling markets, we are unable to ship all glass out of territory for recycling.
In the past, crushed glass has been used for sandblasting, construction aggregate, landscaping material, and for products made by local businesses. When there is no local market for crushed glass, it is used as landfill cover to compact materials and help prevent windblown litter.
Non-refundable glass – no longer accepted
Beginning on December 2, 2019, recycling depots across the Yukon will no longer accept non-refundable glass.
Non-refundable glass includes all glass containers that did not hold a beverage when purchased. Pickle jars, pasta jars, sauce bottles, and oil bottles are all non-refundable glass containers. These items can be rinsed and placed in your regular garbage.
Crushing non-refundable glass in the hopes of finding a consistent local market for the material has diverted funds that could be better used for other recycling operations. Raven Recycling, Whitehorse Blue Bin Recycling, and P&M Recycling jointly notified the government that efficiencies could be increased by no longer collecting non-refundable glass.
Refundable Glass – still accepted
Refundable Glass will still be accepted at Raven Recycling. Any glass container that held a beverage can be brought into the Raven Recycling depot for a refund. This includes beer bottles, wine bottles, juice or coffee-to-go bottles, and milk/milk substitute bottles.
Domestic glass beer bottles (e.g. Budweiser, Canadian, Yukon Brewing and others) are shipped back to the brewers to be cleaned and refilled.
All other refundable glass, such as imported beer bottles and wine bottles will continue to be crushed at Raven. The deposit on refundable glass pays for collecting and processing the glass. Continuous efforts to find a local solution for glass recycling will be made, but as there is currently no local market for the crushed glass, it will continue to be used as landfill cover.
All our plastics are shipped to a processor in Greater Vancouver, Merlin Plastics. This processor handles all materials from the RecycleBC EPR program. In 2018 we shipped 239 tonnes of plastic to Merlin. High value plastics such as #1 PET and #2 HDPE are washed and ground or pelletized before being sold as material to make new products. Mixed hard plastics are also sorted, cleaned and processed into grind/pellets. Tetra-Paks and wax cartons are processed by Merlin and shipped to recyclers in North America and overseas to be pulped. Learn more about carton recycling here.
The rest of what we ship is baled together as “soft plastic.” This includes plastic bags and overwraps (#4 LDPE films), and multi-laminate plastic packaging (made of multiple types of plastic). Multi-laminates include items such as zippered and stand-up pouches, crinkly wrappers and bags, plastic mesh bags, and flexible packaging with a plastic seal.
While LDPE films can be cleaned and recycled, multi-laminates are not currently recyclable. RecycleBC and Merlin Plastics are currently piloting a program to recycle this material, which you can learn more about here. Because we must bale these materials together, soft plastic bales are downgraded by Merlin and used as engineered fuel, which is burned primarily in the production of cement. This is not Raven’s preferred option, but until other options are available to recyclers across Western Canada, we believe this is better than sending the material to Yukon landfills. We are constantly looking for recycling options that are environmentally and economically sustainable, lower our footprint and help bring us closer to Zero Waste.
Metals are shipped to a broker in Vancouver. From there, they are sent to processors in North America or overseas, depending on markets and demand.
Aluminum is one of the most highly recyclable commodities we ship. Beverage cans are remade into aluminum cans right here in North America.
E-waste is collected in cages and shipped to Global Electric Electronic Recycling (GEEP) in Edmonton, AB.
Raven Recycling has had a close relationship with GEEP since 2009, and have visited their facility to ensure that our materials are being responsibly recycled. GEEP is registered with the Alberta Recycling Management Authority as an electronics processor.
Materials sent to GEEP are broken down into component parts. Plastics, metals, and glass are then shipped to various North American locations to be recycled or reused. The same goes for valuable materials such as copper, computer chips and precious metals.
Textiles are shipped south to a recycler in the Lower Mainland in BC. Items are sorted and either re-sold locally, recycled into filling for car seats, rags, etc., or shipped overseas to be sold in foreign markets.
Have a question about a specific material? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org!